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Last Update: Thursday July 2, 2020

Key Idea: Create Event-driven Traffic

Carol Schroeder builds bridges between her vendors and her customers by hosting events where customers can buy items Carol would never be able to stock in the store.  More...

Key Question:


Throw a party. Invite key customers who can learn something and buy something at the same time and invite prospects who will have fun and hopefully make a purchase, too.

Q:  What event did you see in this episode?

A:  Carol created a special event for collectors of Radco Christmas ornaments. Her database tells her who has purchased these ornaments in the past so she sent a postcard to those people to let them know that the sales representative from the factory would be in the store on this particular Saturday in August.

People were lined up to talk to the factory rep. These were dedicated collectors who wanted to learn and who wanted to get the inside scoop on new colors and designs. We experienced an awakening because we had never heard of these beloved Christmas ornaments!

Think about it

Do you create fun and educational experiences for your customers?

Clip from: Orange Tree Imports with Carol Schroeder

Madison, Wisconsin:  Meet a guru of specialty retail, Carol "Orange" Schroeder (just above). She is the author of the book, Specialty Shop Retailing,  and she truly walks her talk. With her husband, Dean, they started their business, Orange Tree Imports, soon after graduating from college. That was 1975.

Today Orange is a master retailer and a quiet hero in her community. She was an early leader in the movement to revitalize the old downtown. Soon after buying the building on Monroe Street, Orange organized a neighborhood business association to do joint marketing-and-promotion to change the orientation of their old shopping district to be a vital area for specialty shops and restaurants. That worked miracles. Monroe Street now draws people from well beyond the neighborhood, even Wisconsin!

Go to all the key ideas and video of this episode...

Orange Tree Imports

Carol Schroeder, Founder

1721 Monroe Street
Madison, WI 53711

Visit our web site:

Office: 608-255-8211

Business Classification:
Specialty Retail

Year Founded: 1975

Create Event-driven Traffic

CHRIS GELALICH: This is the special collector cup piece this year.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Orange is constantly staging events to attract customers to the store. Here it's Chris Gelalich of Vendor Wrap doing Christmas in July. He shows what collectors have to look forward to in the newest line of ornaments.

CHRIS: (Voiceover) So we wanted to give people a preview.

CAROL: (Voiceover) Well, I think that it's really important as a specialty shop to keep a certain excitement alive. You want people to want to come into the store, to feel that there's always something to see, something new. And one way to do that is to have special events.

CHRIS: She was my very first appointment when I moved to Wisconsin. She works very well with vendors and, also, sales reps like myself, listening to what we have to say and what we see, what's moving, what's not moving.

CAROL: He's obviously much more knowledgeable about his specific line (which is Christopher Radko Ornaments) than I would ever be because he sells that line day in and day out. And he's willing to give up a couple hours of his time on a Saturday to come and show those samples to our customers and talk to them about them. And collectors, especially, love to talk to someone that really knows a lot about a line because they want the inside scoop. They want to know what the newest color of a certain ornament is or what's being retired, and that's something that we can offer them that a discounter can't.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Orange mails invitations to the customers she knows already own ornaments from this manufacturer. Her success as a retailer depends on this type of targeted direct marketing.

CAROL: When you decide what to advertise, even though it might be very tempting to run an ad to get rid of the 100 souffle dishes you have in the back room, if souffle dishes aren't selling, you're wasting your time running an ad for souffle dishes. You need to run an ad for lemonade pitchers or whatever is hot at that time of year.

Retail is detail.

There are many, many details every day, and you have to keep your energy level up and keep excited about what you're doing in order to attend to all those details and make your store as successful as possible.

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